It’s hard to imagine the East Midlands without the M1 but these fascinating photographs show its birth and first steps as the main traffic artery from London to the north.

The pictures show the construction just over five decades ago of the stretch of the motorway that passes through the East Midlands.

The 193-mile-long road was constructed in four phases was hailed as the first inter-urban motorway to be completed in the UK.

This collection of photos marks the progress of the M1 through Shepshed and Loughborough 55 years ago.

The pictures were revealed to the Loughborough Echo by a couple from Hathern, following a request for photographs taken of the construction.

Five years ago, to mark the 50th anniversary of the construction, the Echo asked for memories and photographs through their Looking Back section, spurring a number of readers to get in touch, including Ken Dewsbury, who worked on the motorway, and Betty Welch, whose uncle’s bungalow is now the central reservation at Copt Oak.

And it was Ken Dewsbury’s memories that prompted Ian Hughes, of Hathern, to call in. He knew straight away he could help.

The M1 being constructed more than 50 years ago

His wife Kay’s uncle, Tom Stevenson, lived in a farm that sat where the M1 island is now on Junction 23.

The Stevenson Brothers farm kept chickens and pigs – and even grew cabbages for the Army during the Second World War.

And its demolition to make way for the motorway is etched in Kay’s memory – even more so with the help of her uncle Tom’s slides, which the couple were recently able to convert into digital images.

M1 Pictures

They kindly shared all 45 fantastic photographs to reproduce and share with readers.

“As you go up towards Shepshed from Loughborough, Tom’s farm was on the right, near where the roundabout is now,” Kay said.

“De Lisle owned the land but Tom kept the smallholding.

“Of course it was compulsory purchased in 1960 and he kind of semi-retired and went to live in Bridge Street in Shepshed.

“We were all in tears to see it go.

“Tom just used to take his camera out. Many of the photos we don’t know exactly where they were.”

Mr Hughes added: “For me, as an ex-engineer, it’s very interesting.”

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